Sorry for my sparse posting, dealing with my dad's estate. I will endeavour to pick up the slack while CC is in Nerdvana.
The Times is reporting an explosion inside the Iraqi parliamentary cafeteria. The blast claimed the lives of at least two Iraqi MPs and caused many injuries. This occurred within the confines of the heavily fortified green zone. I await the reassurances of Senator McCain that strolling is still an option.
The Boston Globe comments on the extension of service tours for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, from 12 to 15 months:
"Medfield resident W. David Stephenson, whose son, Army Major Alex Stephenson, is serving with the Green Berets in Baghdad, said the longer tours underscore the resource problems that can befall an all-volunteer force. "To make this sound like a positive thing is just outrageous," Stephenson said. "They're doing it because they do not have the resources for war."
The decision to universally extend tours is supposed to be softened by the guarantee of a full year at home between deployments. Which would be grand, except that the troops were already guaranteed a full year at home between deployments. The command simply ignored the original guarantee, what trust can soldiers and their families place in this "new" promise? It is disgusting and tragic to see the damage being caused to America's military.
From CNN, a suicide truck blast destroys a bridge over the Tigris in Baghdad. The blast plunged a number of vehicles into the river and so far, there are reports of at least ten fatalities and twenty-six wounded.
More from CNN World yesterday saw a day long fire fight in the center of Baghdad:
"The battle left four Iraqi soldiers and three insurgents dead, and at least 16 U.S. soldiers and a child wounded, the U.S. military said." The article goes on to mention Operation Black Eagle, "Elsewhere, coalition forces pounded insurgent targets across Iraq on Tuesday as part of Operation Black Eagle, the military said. They launched raids in Anbar, in the west of the country, and Baghdad and continued the push that began last week against Shiite militias in the southern city of Diwaniya. That effort so far has killed 14 people and wounded 61 others, among them Shiite militia members, an Interior Ministry official told CNN."
Well I for one find it most reassuring that some militia members were among the casualties.
And again from CNN World the Red Cross reports that the humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate:
"Hospitals and other key services are desperately short of staff," Kraehenbuehl said. "According to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, more than half the doctors are said to have already left the country." Thousands of bodies lie unclaimed in mortuaries, with family members either unaware that they are there or too afraid to go to recover them, he said.
One of the key jobs of the ICRC is to visit detainees, and the number in custody has been growing as well, Kraehenbuehl said "The number of people arrested or interned by the multinational forces has increased by 40 percent since early 2006. The number of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly."
With more than half a million refugees fleeing the country, largely from the educated and professional classes, including doctors, it is no longer fair to compare Iraq with Viet Nam. Iraq is more accurately becoming the sandy love child of Viet Nam and Cambodia. Except with less stability.
And in the interest of fairness and balance, the CNN sidebar features a video report of an amusement park that has re-opened in eastern Baghdad. I have no snark here. Let the children play.